My friends and I converged at the Cebu South Bus Terminal dawn of Sunday. While three of them were leaving from their comfortable hotels in the heart of Cebu City, some of us quietly tiptoed our way out of our homes. It was an unusual time to meet up. Three o’clock was way too early. Our small group of thrill seekers didn’t mind. Well, some were left with no choice anyway as most of us agreed it’s best to leave early to avoid traffic and to arrive at our destination first thing in the morning. We were headed to Badian, a town located on the southwestern side of Cebu, Philippines to tick off one extreme adventure that my province is getting famous for and that is the Kawasan Canyoneering.
I’ve long wanted to experience the canyoneering activity in Badian, Cebu. I guess the lack of the right company and timing wasn’t on my side all those years. Luckily, two friends from the north planned to include this in their itinerary when they visited Dumaguete and Cebu. I thought to myself there’s simply no way I would miss out on this opportunity. The chance to experience how it is to do the downstream Kawasan canyoneering activity in Badian. Once I ironed out my schedule, I decided to join my friends on this extreme adventure. Soon, four more joined us. Without realising it, the country’s main island groups were well-represented in our small circle. Three from Luzon, two from Visayas, and two from Mindanao.
The beauty with travelling south at dawn is you’ll realize you’ve reached your destination without even knowing it. What was supposed to be a normal three and a half hour bus ride, sometimes four even, could be cut short if you leave the city early. So while pet roosters were busy waking up its masters around town, we’ve already reached our destination.
the Matutinao Beach Resort, just across the church beside the junction going to Kawasan Falls, is Kawasan Canyoneering’s headquarters
We’ve booked our canyoneering adventure with the Kawasan Canyoneering company in Badian. They’re one of the pioneers in the area and authorised by the local government to guide tourists who wanted to do the canyoning activity. Kawasan Cebu Canyoneering is headquartered within the confines of the Matutinao Beach Resort, across the Kawasan Falls junction. A picture-perfect view of the calm sea greets you as you enter the resort.
Since there was still plenty of time before the activity, we decided to order breakfast at the resort. I was surprised to see how cheap their meals are and I hope they continue to keep it that way. With my budget, I could have ordered two if I’m that hungry. But since we’d be doing a lot of jumping through cliffs and wading through the river, it is not advisable to stuff up unless you want to share your
undigested food with the river fishes when you’re doing the activity.
our guide making sure Jona’s helmet is tight and secure; Zee and Marx beaming with excitement; this Kawasan canyoneering activity comes with a free cupcake and a bottled water, I brought the snickers 😀
After consuming our meal, we started preparing. They assigned two guides for our group of seven. There were no lockers to safe keep one’s belongings. What they have is a common bag drop area where you can leave your things. Although I didn’t feel threatened with the safety of my belongings, I would suggest that when you do this activity, bring only the necessary things. If it can’t be helped, let them know the valuables (laptops, etc) you’ll be safekeeping with them to make sure they pay extra care to these.
Canyoneering at Badian, Cebu
Canyoning (canyoneering in the U.S. / kloofing in South-Africa / torrentismo in Italian) is travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling (rappelling), and swimming.
Badian, Cebu is famous for Kawasan Falls, a three-layered waterfall where locals and tourists frequent because of its cold, fresh and azure waters. A group of foreigners accidentally discovered this activity when exploring the area and the rest was history.
There are two types of canyoneering – upstream or downstream. Since we are newbies to this, we definitely picked the downstream activity.
in less than 10 minutes after leaving the resort, we arrived at the Tourism desk to register our names
As soon as we finished prepping up and after securing our belongings at the resort’s baggage area, we were assigned our habal-habal drivers. Since we’ll be doing the downstream canyoning, we have to go to next-town neighbour Algeria for the jump off point of the activity. We stopped over at the tourism desk to register and pay fees. But since ours was a package tour with Kawasan Canyoneering Cebu, everything has been taken cared of. We just need to sign in for documentation purposes, I guess.
The road leading to the jump off point was narrow and the ride was bumpy. On some instances, we’d pass by half-finished roads. That is a good sign because it means that their local government is doing something to make the roads more accessible for the people living in the area.
we continued our motor ride along bumpy and narrow roads
We arrived at a place full of make shift stores and had to leave our names again at one of them stalls. After which, we found ourselves walking along a downhill road where tall bamboos bowed down as if greeting new visitors. From a distance, we could see other adrenaline seekers crowding in an area and you could hear screams, then fading as if something just ate them alive. We’d later find out that we’d soon be doing the same thing. Scream our lungs out up until the river silences us as we make our first plunge.
trekking to the jump off point; our guide boosting our confidence
Before we started this extreme Kawasan canyoneering adventure, our guide had to offer words of wisdom, encouragement and a few reminders here and there for our safety. After saying a prayer, we then proceeded to the first among the many cliffs we’ll be jumping. It was 8:24am.
We were all newbies to this except for Brennan and Jona. Brennan has recently done this activity. Jona, on the other hand, has done the upstream canyoning years ago, when this activity wasn’t still famous. I guess it was safe to assume that all or most of us were quite scared of doing the first jump. There’s no turning back after that. So to make things easier on who’d go first, we had to play ‘pompyang.’ The losers were to go first. Care to guess where I belonged? The losers, of course. Hahaha. I didn’t want to go first. Luckily, Jona volunteered since she couldn’t wait to get in the water. To pee. 😀
Seeing her jump looked so easy. When it was my turn, I had to pause for a few seconds to gather enough courage to make the unthinkable. It was kinda scary. The height of the waterfalls was intimidating. There were a lot of things going on in my head. What if I hit the rock underneath? What if I don’t float too soon? Is it really deep? My knees were starting to betray me.
But what the heck. I just had to do it.
And so I jumped.
Surprisingly, I survived. After quickly checking I still have all my body parts functioning, I turned back to where the rest of the group were, still standing on top of that cliff which suddenly looked unimpressively low from where I was. It didn’t look that high anymore.
one jump down, more to go!
For the next 4 hours, we walked, scrambled, jumped, slid and swam along the huge boulders of rocks that comprise the Matutinao River System.
Kawasan Canyoneering in Cebu
Canyoneering is fun especially if you are in the company of friends who are as adventurous as you are. The Kawasan Canyoneering activity is not for the faint-hearted because it will require a lot of stamina as you jump cliffs, wade waters and trek downstream for four hours or more. They said some finished this activity in 2 hours, if my memory’s right. Some takes five to six hours depending on the group’s pace.
after jumping the first cliff, there’s no turning back; just sit and slide your way down
When deciding to do this Cebu canyoneering activity, you need to have a presence of mind. Be sure to listen to your guide ALWAYS. Afterall, they are only looking after your safety.
the slide and the cave underneath it
The best thing about getting trusted guides seasoned with experience is you will never doubt their competence. The guides at Kawasan Cebu Canyoneering have undergone rigorous training to carry out their duties well as the canyoneering activity is not something to be taken for granted. Most of them are locals in the area and have grown up traversing the canyons of the river. So it gives you that sense of comfort knowing that you’re in good hands with people who are familiar with place.
Canyoneering in Badian, Cebu is definitely a must-try!
swim, float, climb, photo ops
you go through small passageways to get to the other side
by this time, you’ll lost count how many cliff jumps you did and just go with the flow
almost there, but not quite
the gang scrambling to get food
Three quarters along the trek, you’ll be surprised to see stores selling barbecue and drinks and you’ll wonder how the heck did they get there when you’re surrounded with canyons 360. This is the reason why you might consider bringing a waterproof pouch stored in your dry bags in case you get hungry along the way. But you should not stuff up too much. Because the best is yet to come.
one of the highest cliff jumps you’ll be doing in this activity
This is one of the highest cliffs that you need to jump to continue the activity. If you’re looking from where you’ll be jumping, you’ll probably get scared because of the height of the jump. But from a different angle, it doesn’t look that high. What’s challenging in this jump is that you might hit the wall across but other than that, it’s pretty safe, I guess. You just need to make sure you don’t bend or fold your legs when you jump to avoid getting injured. Zee can’t seem to master how to jump straight in the river so her posterior thigh looked like a dark purple yam after the activity.
Do you have the guts to jump?
I didn’t. 😀 I was too chicken to jump this one. But after seeing it from a different angle and saw it wasn’t that tall, I slowly convinced myself that I’ll jump too. However, it was too late since the rest of the group were moving on with the trek. Oh well. Lucky me. 😆
The good news is you don’t have to jump this one as there’s an alternative route. Awesome, right? How about the cliff jumps before you reach this point? A must. For there’s no other route. 😛
The area after that cliff above was my favorite. We had to go through a small opening to get to this part and I love the look of the glistening rock formations hovering above our heads. It’s quite magical, I would say. The photo on top didn’t give justice to the beauty of that cave roof.
We were told we were almost near the finish line. We just had one more thing to do and they we’re done. We stopped wading through the river and started walking along the river bed. Then from a distance, we saw the enchanting hues of blue.
We’ve reached the third tier of Kawasan Falls. This is where the canyoneering activity ends. And as if there were graduation rites to be had, you’re prowess would be tested with a final jump. We could hear people shouting, cursing, screaming their lungs out. We hurriedly walked to see what the fuzz was all about. And then we saw this.
Cliff jumping at its finest. Running, it seems is the best way to accomplish this daredevil stunt. You need to run to avoid crashing near the cliff’s walls. As to how deep the waters are near the walls, we had no idea. There’s only one thing my friends had in mind though. Jump. And so they did.
Ar-jay, cliff jumping with a twist
For the next minutes, we spent time in this area and enjoyed other groups do the craziest stunts they could think of. While some were silently back flipping their way down. Others were cursing their exes for breaking their hearts before making the jump. Those who were too lazy to run just climbed a huge tree branch to make sure they land at the center of the river. It was a crazy yet fun sight to watch.
When we finally had enough, we decided it’s time to continue our trek back. Although I couldn’t keep track how many times I’ve been to Kawasan Falls, this is the only time I’ve reached the third tier. We passed by an old dam reservoir and it looked rustically charming.
Surprisingly, I never got tired or felt hungry the entire time we did the Kawasan Canyoneering activity. I forgot to mention that I brought with us a bunch of bananas for our potassium fix and it seemed that I was the only one who was eager to eat it during the entire trek. While the rest of my companions preferred the Barbecue-ala-Matutinao, I was happily eating my comfort fruit.
It was already 1:30pm we when got back at the Kawasan Canyoneering headquarters. Since ours was a package tour, free lunch was included and we were served with fried spring rolls, noodles and grilled chicken. It was the perfect way to end the activity. After lunch, Marx and Zee hurriedly headed back to their comfortable hotel in Cebu City since they still have an evening flight to catch. As for the rest of us, we decided to go to Lambug Beach, one of Badian’s beautiful beaches to chill and make the most of our Sunday escape before heading home.
Kawasan Canyoneering offers canyoneering packages starting from PHP 1,500 per person (regardless of nationality). This rate covers all government fees, lifevest, safety helmet, aqua shoes, ride to jump station, tour guide fees, lite snacks, bamboo rafting at kawasan falls and the recovery meals (lunch).
Kawasan Canyoneering Cebu
Disclosure: Kawasan Canyoneering sponsored our downstream canyoneering in Kanlaob River in Alegria/Badian. Experience shared on this post was raw experience of the blogger and not influenced by the brand and/or the people behind it.